Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nationals Series Starts Tomorrow - Scheduled Autograph Signings, Game Give Aways and Other Stuff!

The next homestand starts on Monday against the Washington Nationals, and several olde-tyme Dodgers will be in the house to sign free autographs for fans.  Below are the scheduled autograph opportunities and other odds and ends for this upcoming homestand.

BTW, the Extreme Loaded Dog concession stands will be making the Washington Dog, an all-beef hot dog wrapped in Virginia Ham.  It will be available Friday through Sunday at extreme loaded dog concession stands on the Field, Loge and Reserve levels. 

Monday, September 1st at 5:10 PM

Happy Labor Day!  Monday's game starts at 5:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 2:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 3:00 PM.  This afternoon the Dodgers celebrate Josh Beckett's No-Hitter.  The first 40,000 fans will receive an Beckett Commemorative No-Hitter Pin.  Check it out on the right.

As part of his 27,273-mile media tour, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, eight-division world champion in boxing, will throw the ceremonial first pitch on Monday.  The Filharmonic, who appeared on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” will perform prior to Monday’s game and will also sing the national anthem.

Former Dodgers Tim Leary (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Ken Landreaux (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Leon Pierce of Los Angeles. Pierce enlisted in 2002 and served with a Mortar Platoon maintaining personnel and equipment and ensuring his unit was mentally and physically prepared for combat operations. While deployed at Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, his vehicle was hit by an IED where he sustained several injuries. He is now recovering at the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Camp Pendleton and hopes to attend SDSU to become a trauma nurse. Pierce’s accolades include the Purple Heart and the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals. Bank of America Senior Vice President Global Commercial Banking Felix Whittaker will present Pierce with an authenticated flag that has proudly flown over Dodger Stadium and display case.
Tuesday, September 2nd at 7:10 PM

Tueday's game starts at 7:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 4:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 5:00 PM. It is another Dodger bobblehead day. The first 50,000 fans will receive a Magic Johnson Bobblehead.  See the bobblehead on the left.

Dodgers Radio AM 570 Fox Sports LA’s Petros and Money show will broadcast live from the left-field pavilion plaza. R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne will perform the national anthem.

Former Dodgers Dennis Powell (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Derrel Thomas (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Wyatt Waldron of Palmdale. Waldron was a 50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gunner with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Infantry and served three combat tours in Iraq. In 2004, his unit fought in the battle of Fallujah, Iraq, and pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Waldron’s accolades include the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained from an IED blast, two Marine Corps Medals with Valor and the Silver Star. 
Wednesday, September 3rd at 12:10 PM

Wednesday's game starts early at 1:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 9:30 AM, and stadium gates open at 10:00 AM.

Singer and songwriter Kim Devine will perform the national anthem. 

Former Dodgers Billy Ashley (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Matt Luke (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
  • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant John Smith. In 1961, after hearing President John F. Kennedy’s first inaugural speech in which he stated ‘“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” Smith enlisted in the Air Force and served at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base doing medical research. 

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Blog Kiosk: 8/31/2014 - Dodger Links - Losing Tough Again and Ryu & Uribe are Back

Just another tough loss for the Dodgers last night.  The Padres are showing that they are a team not to be ignored.  Sure, they can't hit a lick, but when you can send out hurlers who can pitch effectively it means you are always in the game.  Given some time and proper development we could see this franchise become relevant again.  BTW, four heirs to former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley are part owners of the Padres, so the focus on pitching shouldn't be a surprise.  The Dodgers won due to pitching, and in a pitchers ballpark like PetCo there's no reason not to start there.

Last night, Zack Greinke matched wits and skills with Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.  They both gave up just one run apiece and didn't figure in the final decision.  Defense ruled the day for the Dodgers.  They made some spectacular plays to help their pitchers along; including a diving catch into the stands by Justin Turner.  Check out some videos of the more remarkable Dodger defensive plays here, via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider.  The photo above is of Turner making the death-defying catch, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to see more photos from the game.

For the second straight game these clubs went into extra innings, and the Padres pulled it out again with walkoff victory.  The Dodgers just couldn't capitalize on their opportunities.  They left ten men on base, and only scored because Adrian Gonzalez homered to tie the game in the sixth inning.

They play their rubber match this afternoon.  Hopefully, the Dodgers can salvage the series with a victory.

As it now stands, the Dodgers hold a perilous 2.5 game lead over the Giants.  I'm starting to sweat as we come down the stretch.  Now, below are more links to check out:
  • ICYMI, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been activated off the DL to start the game this afternoon.  Carlos Frias is option to AAA, but you should expect that too last long.  Rosters expand on Monday, and I suspect Frias will be immediately brought back then.
  • Juan Uribe has also been reinstated from the DL and will bat sixth in this afternoons lineup.  Infielder Miguel Rojas was optioned, but like Frias you should expect him back once rosters expand on Monday.
  • Via Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider, "Dodgers remain on record strikeout pace."
Back in April – admittedly, when the season wasn’t even a month old – I couldn’t help but comment on the remarkable number of strikeouts that were piling up in Dodger games.
"I started thinking about it the previous at-bat," said Wallach, who left third baseman Justin Turner in his normal spot with the rest of the left side of the infield unprotected. "I thought it for sure was the right thing to do for Smith. Almost every ground ball he hits to the right side."
"The season is long, and it wears you down," Mattingly said. "It's part of learning to regulate yourself here, as far as rest or anything else. We've seen Dee Gordon and how much more consistent his approach is day in and day out now, staying at a certain level. I think Yasiel's really emotional, and it's hard to be really emotional and play 162."
Don Mattingly said: “I don’t know if he’s just getting healthy after a couple years of injuries. Is he getting more confident that he’s been able to stay out there and he’s feeling good, you know? … But he’s definitely getting back to looking like himself.”
  • Holy Mackerel!  Via Mina Kimes at ESPN The Magazine, "Curt Flood's monopoly man."  A single collector has been hoarding 1964 Topps Curt Flood cards for decades, and is thought to own a quarter of all those that exist.  His efforts have caused values to be unreasonably high for set collectors.
  • Via Mark Townsend at Big League Stew, "Japanese high school game spans four days and 50 innings."  Wha...?

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Sunday Dodger Videos: Herges on Urias, Kershaw and Scott Van Slyke

Here are this Sunday's Dodger videos.

Check out this fun fan-made Dodger themed video for the Dropkick Murphy's song "The Boys are Back."

Video Link:

Listen to RC Quakes pitching coach Matt Herges talk about Dodger prospect Julio Urias, via ieProSports.

Video Link:

David Katz at ThePostGame interviews Clayton Kersahw.  He speaks about being an MVP candidate, the Dodgers potential this season, Yasiel Puig's maturity and why everyone should have a 'World Series or Bust' attitude.

Video Link:

Via Stadium Bound, listen to Scott Van Slyke give his testimony at Dodgers' Faith and Family Day at Dodger Stadium.

Video Link:

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another Dodger Prospect Wins an Award - Jose De Leon Named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year

Prospect Jose De Leon has had a fantastic year in the Dodger organization.  He began the year hoping to improve on a dismal 2013 rookie season, and improve he did.  De Leon has just been named the Pioneer League's Pitcher of the Year.

In ten appearances with the rookie-ball Pioneer League Ogden Raptors he went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA, struck out 77 in 54.1 innings and batters were hitting a paltry .217 against him.  Then, he was promoted to the Single-A Great Lake Loons ballclub and got better.  In four starts he went 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA, struck out 42 batters in 22.2 innings and batters hit only .171 against him.

In Dustin Nosler's great article about him on Dodgers Digest he said this about his dramatic turnaround:
“I’m feeling more comfortable, my delivery is cleaner this year. Those could be factors.”
De Leon throws a lively mid-90's fastball, a low-80's slider and a changeup that Nosler reports is his favorite pitch to throw.  As he indicated above, he also made some changes to his delivery that has obviously worked out well for him. 

On the season, he was twice named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week.  He won the awards for the week of June 23-29 and August 4-10.  De Leon then set a Great Lakes Loon club record with fourteen strike outs against Fort Wayne in his second start for the team.  BTW, this was two strike outs better than the previous mark held by Clayton Kershaw. 

In celebration of De Leon's accomplishment I made the above fantasy card for him.  The card uses a photo taken from a Raptors story at MiLB and the vintage 1964 Topps Baseball card design.  Below are his career statistics, via Baseball Reference:

In his last start of the year on Friday, Jose De Leon struck out twelve in 5.2 innings pitched.  You can watch strike out number twelve in the video below.

Video Link:

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Blog Kiosk: 8/30/2014 - Dodger Links - Extreme Shifting, Puig's Missing Bat and Praise for Kershaw

In one of the more extreme shifts you'll ever see, the Dodger stacked four infielders on the right side of the infield against Seth Smith of the Padres in the 12th inning of last nights game.  Check out their defensive alignment in the photo above, tweeted out by JP Hoornstra.  Smith, a proven groundball pull hitter, came up with the bases loaded, and did just as they expected (watch it here).  He grounded the ball to Dee Gordon. Unfortunately, the relay throw to home was a little too off the mark to allow for a doubleplay, so the Padres would get another at-bat.  That very next batter slapped a single to the right side to record a walkoff win.

The Dodger fell to the Padres, 3 to 2, and lost a game in the standings to the suddenly surging Giants.  Disappointing, eh?  They coulda, shoulda, won this one.  Haren, although not entirely on the mark last night, pitched six effective innings (watch highlights here).  He sprayed five hits, struck out three, walked one and gave up just two runs (one unearned).  The followup relief crew also held their own until long-man Kevin Correia walked the bases loaded to set up the shift explained above.

The Dodgers offense was helped along by an resurgent Haley Ramirez, who homered for the first time since coming back from the disabled list (watch it here).  Justin Turner continued his hot hitting ways, but that was not enough.  They could only muster two runs on eleven hits.

The Dodgers are now sitting on a 3.5 game lead over the Giants.  Now, below are some links to check out:
“Where has it gone?” McGwire repeated with a laugh when asked about Puig’s power. “You know what — he got off to a fast start with home runs. Once you do that, people think you're a home run hitter. But really it’s all about pitch selection and patience. He’s shown some great stretches with patience and he’s shown some stretches where he’s not patient at all.

“You have to hit strikes. When you simplify the game and stay within your zone, you can get pitches to drive like that. Sometimes he just gets out of that mode and tries too hard. We can’t forget that he's a very young hitter. And young hitters that aren’t really home run hitters that come out hitting home runs — then people try to put things in their mind that they are home run hitters and they try to do too much.”
“His consistency is off the charts good,” Maddux said. “Everybody who wears a major-league uniform is good in their own way. There’s guys who can do it every time they put on the uniform. … Every time you see a player whose bad games are good, it’s special.”
  • Via Jeffrey Long at Beyond the Boxscore, "How to get a hit against Clayton Kershaw."  Check out this advanced scouting report.
  • Chris Olds at Beckett shares some preview pics from Topps 2015 Sticker Baseball set, here.  Check out the Clayton Kershaw sticker on the right.  It is slated to come out on March 4, 2015.
  • The new September edition of Dodger Insider Magazine features Clayton Kershaw on the cover and includes a stories on his Ping Pong 4 Purpose charity event, his MVP candidacy and his unprecedented domination of the strike zone in 2014.  There is also a 15-page special section offering the history behind every Dodger uniform number from 00 to 99.  Go here for ordering information or get a copy at souvenir stands at Dodger Stadium when the next homestand opens on Monday against the Nationals.  Check out the cover on the left.
  • Via David Brown at Big League Stew, "Family of Jackie Robinson Little Leaguer is homeless."
His mother, Devona Benton, says she and Benton's father, a radiator tech who works part-time, could no longer afford their apartment after her hours were cut as a home-care provider for Catholic Charities. She's worked there for six years and sometimes it's been a struggle, but she says this is the first time her family had to split up to survive. She also is responsible for looking after her 16-year-old son, and for helping with the three grandchildren of her grown daughter. She's hoping and praying for more clients, but until that happens, the family will be fractured.
  • OK, fine.  I'm gonna link to a Plaschke article, but only because it's a good one about LA Kings coach Darryl Sutter.  Via Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, "Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is never down on the farm."

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Friday, August 29, 2014

A Ralph Branca Topps Team Legends Auto'd Card for my Collection

I just absolutely love vintage looking Topps reprints autographed by olde-tyme Dodgers.  They are like flashbacks towards a more simple time, while at the same time incorporating the flare that is only found in modern Baseball card issues. 

For instance, take a look at this new card I just received from eBay.  It is a 2001 Topps Team Legends autographed card of Ralph Branca.  It uses the design from his 1952 Topps Baseball card, and has two different shiny gold foil stampings.  How fancy is that, eh? 

The reverse of the card is an exact recreation of the original 1952 card, save the copyright mark on the left corner and the hologram sticker proving the authenticity of Branca's autograph.

I do not quite know which Topps product this card originally came in.  From what I understand, Topps created "Team Topps Legends" autographed cards from 2001 to 2003, and inserted them in as many as fourteen different card brands.  In 2001, they could be found in six different card sets; including a non-sport heavy set called 2001 Topps American Pie.

Also, I came across a really great card while researching this set.  In 2001 Topps created a 50th Anniversary commemorative "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" buy-back card that was autographed by both Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson.  The buy-back card was the 1991 Bowman "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" card #410, and were exclusively found only in packs of 2001 Topps Series 1 boxes.  I do not know how limited it is since it appears to be an unnumbered autograph insert card.  What I do know is that I have to find it for my collection.  I believe the card on the right is an example of it, but it is priced too high for my pocketbook. 

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Topps Asks You - Which Kershaw Photo Should they Use for his 2015 Baseball Card?

It is always great to get tips for this blog.  After all, I couldn't possibly see everything Dodger related that's out there.  Doubly so for the strange and interesting stuff found on the various social media outlets I have yet to start using.  So, imagine my joy when a Blue Heaven reader named Austin let me know about a Topps contest on Instagram that all Dodger fans should get in on.

A bit earlier today, Topps instagramed (is that the right term) a couple of Clayton Kershaw photos with the following caption:
#ToppsNation, it's time to start picking images for 2015 #ToppsBaseball, and we need your help! We have two images here of the potential #CyYoung and #MVP winner Clayton Ketshaw. Whichever one has the most likes by 6pm EST on September 2nd will be his 2015 Topps card.
(UPDATE:  I just noticed that Topps spelled his name wrong.  What tha....?)  Below are the two different Clayton Kershaw photos available to choose from.

And, be sure to keep in mind that it has to flow with the design Topps will be using for their 2015 flagship Baseball card set.  You can see that below.

You have until Tuesday, September 2nd to let your voice be heard.  Which photo do you want to see on Kershaw's 2015 Topps Baseball card?

Go here for the photo on the left, or here for the photo on the right.  Below are the embeds.


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Blog Kiosk: 8/29/2014 - Dodger Links - Dodger Prospects Threw Two No Hitters Yesterday

It was an amazing day for Dodger minor league pitchers yesterday.  Not only did their Arizona League (rookie class) Dodgers throw a combined four-pitcher no hitter in the afternoon, but Chattanooga Lookouts (AA affiliate) hurler Andres Santiago also threw a 1 to 0 no hitter against the Tennessee Smokies.  Holy Cow!

Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
Santiago struck out a season-high 12 on the night, and flirted with a perfect game. He retired the first 22 batters before Christian Villanueva walked with one out in the eighth inning. Two pitches before the walk, Villaneuva nearly had the first hit of the game for the Smokies, a roller up the third base line that went foul just before reaching the bag.
Andres Santiago is 24-years old and is from Catano, Puerto Rico.  He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2007 in the 16th Round, and has slowly risen up the ranks since then.  Santiago has spent the last three seasons in Chattanooga.  The photo above is of Santiago speaking to the crowd after his accomplishment, via the Chattanooga Lookouts on twitter.

The first no hitter of day was performed by the Dodgers rookie league affiliate Arizona Dodgers.  Via Teddy Cahill at
Left-hander Jairo Pacheco combined with three relievers -- Kam Uter, Yeuri Gonzalez and Harlan Richter -- for a no-hitter Thursday, and the Rookie-level Dodgers defeated the Brewers, 10-0.
Jon Wesiman at Dodger Insider shares a photo of the no hitter battery, here.

Who thought that 2014 would be the year of the no hitter for the Dodgers? On a side note, I wonder if any franchise has recorded four no hitters, from low minors to the Majors, in one season.  Anybody know?

Since the Giants won their Thursday afternoon game against the Rockies, the Dodgers lead over them shrinks slightly to 4.5 games.  Now, below are some links to check out:
"It's a pretty humbling award that I got to win," Pederson said of being PCL MVP. "I mean it's exciting, I've never won a player of the year award. It's my first, I feel good about it. It's kind of a relief for all the hard work I've put in. It's a nice cap at the end of the season."
“I don’t even know how you calculate [WAR] or what, exactly, it means,” Turner said. “I know sabermetrics is a big part of it nowadays and I know that’s a big sabermetric number, but I don’t really pay attention to it. Any time you have success, it’s gratifying, especially when you know how difficult the game is.”

It goes beyond those numbers, though. For the second time this season, Turner has filled in for one of the Dodgers’ most unsung players, Juan Uribe, and made his absence virtually invisible.

“Shoot, to be honest with you, I’m not sure where we’d be if he hadn’t been here,” Wallach said. 
De Leon uses a fastball that sits in the 91-94 MPH range and maxes out at 96 MPH. The thing that separates it from many other fastballs in the organization is the movement. It’s a running fastball that hasn’t yet correlated to a high ground ball rate, but it could. If nothing else, it has enough movement to get hitters to miss it or make weak contact with it.
  • Topps just released their 2014 Throwback Collection poster cards on their website and it includes a couple of Dodgers in the set: Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig.  Check them both out below.  The prints measure 10" x 14" and are printed on 16pt trading card stock.  Go here to check them out.  The Kershaw print on the left is limited to #/49 copies, and the Puig card on the right is the "Aqua Edition" limited to only #/10 copies.  The "1 of 1" parallel cards called the "Gold Edition" have already been sold.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Joc is Our PCL MVP

    Joc Pederson is having a season for the ages. 

    Over the past week, Joc has been named to the All-PCL Team and won the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year award.  Today we learn that he can also add the Most Valuable Player Award to his mantle.  Per a Isotopes press release:
    The 22-year-old outfielder received more than half of the votes from the 16 field managers as well as media representatives from across the league to be named the 78th PCL MVP in league history.

    Pederson's MVP recognition is just another in his trophy case for the 2014 season. On Tuesday, he was named the PCL's Rookie of the Year, just one day after earning All-PCL Team honors. Last Saturday, Pederson became the first player in 80 years to record a 30-30 season in the PCL.

    Ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers' top-overall prospect entering the season according to Baseball America, Pederson leads the PCL in home runs (33), on-base percentage (.434), runs scored (101), total bases (256) and walks (96). His .590 slugging percentage currently ranks second in the league. The outfielder's 96 walks and 101 runs scored are Isotopes single-season records.
    Sure, his numbers might be aided a bit by a very hitter-friendly home ballpark, but who cares?  That's just a bunch of rabble from hater's who would rather spend their time knocking someone down.  Instead, let's cheer and clap our hands for the kid. 

    Congrats, Joc!

    The Isotope season is coming to a rapid close, so Albuquerqueans will have just one final chance to watch their MVP.  Their last homestand begins tonight against the Las Vegas 51's and ends on Monday.  Pederson is also expected to join the Dodgers for a September call-up.

    Oh... And, on Friday one lucky fan will win Joc Pederson's car.  Yeah, that's right... Someone out there will drive away in Joc's hooptie - a 1994 Buick Century.  It is nicknamed "Little Chucky."  Go here for details about this contest.

    In celebration of Joc's MVP trophy I made the two two fantasy cards for him (both above and below).  The card at the top uses a photo taken by a fan named Wrigley Gilkison (which might be the best name ever) and put up on Pinterest and I used the vintage 1971 Topps Baseball card design (template provided by Alex Markle at Chavez Ravining).  I made the below card just because I thought the photo taken by Tyler Maun / was fantastic.  BTW, you can check out other fantasy cards I made of Joc here and here.

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    2014 Topps Factory Set Inserts - Sandy Koufax Chrome Refractor Cards

    Since I've made it my mission to share pics of all of the new Dodger cards created for fans, I figured it was high time that I focus on a handful insert cards packaged exclusively into Topps factory complete sets.

    This season, there are several different exclusive Factory Set Inserts available, but only one of them features a Dodger.  A Chrome Refractor Sandy Koufax Reprint card have been randomly inserted into marked sets (as you can see in the example above).  There are three different Koufax reprints available.  Check them out below.  They reprinted the 1956 Topps, 1957 Topps and 1958 Topps cards.  (BTW, the recently released 2014 Topps Chrome set includes a reprint of the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card)

    Just for reference purposes, I figured I'd provide a checklist of the other factory set inserts that are available.  Check that out below.

    In addition to the Sandy Koufax reprints, Topps also made Ted Williams Chrome Refractor reprint cards.  That set includes reprints of the 1951 Bowman, 1954 Bowman & 1954 Topps cards.

    There are also two different 5-card variation sets inserted into factory sets.  There is the All-Star Edition set and the Rookie Photo Variation set.  Below is a checklist for both.

    All-Star Edition: #AS-1 Andrew McClutchen, #AS-2 Derek Jeter, #AS-3 Miguel Cabrera, #AS-4 Joe Mauer & #AS-5 Mike Trout

    Rookie Photo Variations: #36 Billy Hamilton, #133 Xander Bogaerts, #195 Nick Castellanos, #496 Jose Abreu & #661 Masahiro Tanaka

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